Loss Prevention, Member Service, Member Confidence
Loss Prevention Is A Member Service
Every organisation must inspire confident customers (for business) or members (for organisations). The organisation shrivels, wastes away, and dies without committed partners willing to consume the services it provides.
Every organisation forms to deliver services of one type or another. How the organisation does this is very important.
It’s important to know the difference between services and service.
- Services are intangible benefits exchanged between two parties. Membership models are especially based on this idea.
- Service is a process to ensure customers (in the profit sector) or members (in the voluntary sector) are satisfied.
Some customer or member service occurs during a transaction: members makes a purchase, dates are booked, classes are scheduled, whatever — but does this serve the member? Somewhat, but mostly it serves the organisation. The member probably doesn’t see the service until he (she) goes to the class, and even then. Real service occurs when a problem of some sort occurs. Member service, for the member, occurs in-person, during a phone call, or via social media.
Member service is…
- a satisfaction strategy for members
- a loss prevention strategy for organisations, and
- essential to the well-being of both members and organisation.
Member service inspires confidence in your members, confident members renew their membership every year — and they often bring new members in.
The Member Service Officer
Loss Prevention Headquarters trains professional member service officers (MSOs). Security and safety are each a great concern for many communities and organisations. Member service officers are trained to qualify for, and successfully complete, the examination for security guard licensing. MSOs are required to license: this imposes regulated standards for both MSO training and conduct.
Loss Prevention Headquarters, however, does not train security guards.
Some member service officers may principally provide this security service, others less so. The organisation the member service officer serves will decide the precise roles and goals they expect from their MSOs. The next series of articles will explore all aspects of LPHQ’s member service qualification program, beginning with security and loss prevention.
Leadership Ideals From Alcoholics Anonymous
Does your organisation have a moral purpose? If not, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has a lesson for you.
AA proposes 12 Traditions to regulate the group’s dynamic.Tradition 2 states “For our Group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving G!d… ,” and proposes a uniquely humanist, secular idea of G!d.
The distinction between secular and humanist is important. Being “secular” is a peculiar, western idea. I am secular if I am unattached to a religious or spiritual tradition; I may or may not be a humanist.
Humanists are critical thinkers. They ask many questions, raise many doubts, value rational explanations, and seek to minimise bias. They learn also this: there is no need to seek a scientific basis for everything. Myth also explains phenomena. Morality is the phenomenon that concerns us here.
The essential myth of morality is simply this: why would anyone question that there is a cosmological analog to metabolism? Human thought, human action, relies on the basic chemical transformations our human metabolism controls. All animals think.
Humans think distinctly. We draw conclusions from our thoughts. One such conclusion: rules are necessary when we meet in a group. These rules — “morality” — firmly define acceptable acts and the expectation that someone will behave to a specific standard.
Morality is a “social fact,” not a “social construct.” A social fact defines how social control over individuals occurs. A social construct is an idea established through cultural or social practice. Social facts and social constructs generally complement each other.
In other words? Human beings are designed to have these expectations. Expectations are unformed resentments: someone will always put social facts into conflict with social constructs by ignoring the standard. Ethics avoid (but do not eliminate) this problem.
Companies, organisations generally, are a collection of individuals, but so are cities, towns, and shopping centres. Morality matters in organisations: individuals are motivated to be moral. Are they?
No, I think not. This is an ancient an ideal, but not a truth. Ir is a well-known noble lie, a foundational myth used to explain the necessity of kindness. People are less motivated by kindness than by self-interest. Organisations are no different.
This is the first part of Hillel’s Riddle: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? (No one.) This is the second part: If I am for myself alone, where am I? (Alone.) Self-interest motivates morality.
Must Organisations Be Good?
A question to answer a question.
Good at what? Imagine you’re shopping for a community. What inspires you about its purpose?
If I am only for myself, where am I?
If not now, when?
Bruce Jones, the senior programming director at the Disney Institute, shares a fascinating insight in Talking Point, the Disney Institute journal:
Purpose answers why? and mission answers what?
“A mission is something that describes the organization’s business,” Jones says, “and it projects into the future to provide focus for management and staff.” My take-away from Jones is that missions may change over time, and should, but purpose needs no historical context: if purpose means why then the same answer is as valid now as it was in 1958. Put slightly differently, one does not fulfil a purpose.
One does not fulfil purpose — it is a why, not a what — but it is possible to leave purpose unfulfilled, and to overcome this dilemma we must pose three other questions — who? where? and when?Adding these three questions still leaves the question how unanswered, and we will answer it below. This is Hillel’s riddle (my answers are on the second row):
The riddle, originally stated in Hebrew, poses an interesting dilemma: it’s perfectly sensible to translate the Hebrew of the second question as either “who am I?” or “what am I?”
English questions can sometimes be similarly hard to distinguish. Hebrew asks where but what does “where” mean? Aren’t I here? The simple answer: I cannot be alone in a group but I can be lonely, thus “alone” answers where and “lonely” answer what. Isolation is the consequence either way.
The Reality of Moral Philosophy
I have no idea why moral points need a philosophical basis. Ethics are the rules humans make to get along with each other, and so morality is an expectation that humans can behave ethically. If moral points are an expectation, however, whose expectation are we to meet?
There is no way to avoid G!d. Even Einstein couldn’t avoid G!d.
What To Teach Yourself About Member Service
Loss Prevention Headquarters (LPHQ) has a member service syllabus.1 Use it to decide what your Member Service Officers (MSOs) need to know to effectively serve your membership.
LPHQ emphasizes planning and minimises the importance of a “plan,” but this is an exception: a member service plan is crucial.
Why The Difference?
Member service extends the social mission your organisation is formed to support. You can plan for this: being social is (or should be) part of your culture. You should not need to analyse much (or anything), everyone your organisation reaches deserves courtesy, and you decide what’s important for your MSOs to know.
Your Courtesy Book
A courtesy book deals with interpersonal communications2, behaviour and morals. A courtesy book is the foundation of your MSO curriculum. More often called a book of manners today, your courtesy book makes decisions about only two matters:
- What your member can expect from your MSO, and
- What you expect from your MSO.
Planning MSO Empowerment.
Here is an exception to the exception:
- There is no such thing as an MSO empowerment plan
Service expectations change over time. Your courtesy book must be flexible, but it must also be a plan: not much should change; expectations are one thing, your organisation’s dedication to its mission is another. Conduct is an expectation; even the very smallest organisations must decide what these expectations are.
What To Teach Your Member Service Officers.
In 1744, when he was about 16, George Washington copied a Jesuit manual on eqtiquette as a handwriting exercise. The manual, written in the late 16th C., rings true to moderns. LPHQ has used modern English to re-interpret these rules of civility.
I want to stress that President Washington wrote these rules as a handwriting exercise. Writing what someone else has written is an effective learning tool. The hand copies while the eye remembers each word. This is an effective way to learn and master content.
Every MSO must know your courtesy book by rote. They must able to randomly cite it — and they must know what courtesy policy applies in each situation they encounter. Only if in doubt should they refer a member service issue to a higher authority.
2. Another word for this type of interpersonal communications? “Etiquette.”↩
The Member Service Officer
Frontline service issues are not always obvious, even to member service professionals, and when they become obvious it’s important that your organisation empowers staff to resolve the issue.
Loss Prevention Headquarters (LPHQ) uses the term Member Service Officer (MSO) to describe someone your community empowers to serve members.
Member service is both a skillset and mindset. It has only one goal: to meet or exceed your member’s expectations.
It’s not a great challenge, or shouldn’t be, to train MSOs. Members form opinions about everyone in your organisation. It’s inevitable. Some organisations are more or less prone to this, but it happens in every organisation.
“Faire rêver c’est un métier.”
This is the French job description on the careers website of Disneyland Paris. The English-language careers website uses this translation: “Making dreams come true is a real job.” In other words?
Goals matter, roles do not.
MSO training starts when you hire someone.
Everyone who works at Disney first completes “Traditions Training,” this includes learning from guests what Disney staff do to make vacations magical, and it also includes the Four Keys:
Safety. The first priority of every Disney employee, it may never compromised.
Courtesy. Disney’s frontline staff, “cast members,” are vital to the experience Disney wants every guest to leave with. Courtesy is behind every contact every cast member has with every guest.
Show. Cast members are professional and collaborative storytellers. They make real the stories Disney tells its guests, and they collaborate backstage, in offices, and in workshops.
Efficiency. Cast members are empowered to ensure that the work behind every is efficient. It minimises or eliminates unnecessary inconveniences.
Let’s translate this using LPHQ terms…
Member Service vs Customer Service
Businesses support customers through “customer service.” Some businesses form a customer service department, some do not. Either way there is, or should be, someone in the business assigned to support customers.
Membership organisations probably dominate the voluntary sector. This business model is more intensely about service than any other. The members of a voluntary organisation are quite serious about everything the organisation does. Why would they join it otherwise?
Service: A Philosophy? Or A Business Operation?
Many articles stress that service is a philosophy, not a business operation.1 These articles stress that everyone in the organisation is responsible for supporting customers or members.
It’s also common to assert that service is an investment, not an operation. This may be true when your organisation distributes goods. It is nonsense when your organisation distributes services.
Every non-profit forms to distribute services.
Loss Prevention Headquarters (LPHQ) thinks that service is essential to loss prevention. LPHQ curricula emphasize the use of member service officers.
Member Service vs Customer Service.
There is a serious difference between these two similar concepts:
- Customer service is optional: a business decides
- what products it supports, and
- how long such support lasts.
- Member service is not optional.
Customer service is optional and most serious manufacturers provide it. Member service is not optional, and most serious non-profits don’t provide it because they think they already do.
Retention Is A Loss Prevention Strategy. A marketing term, retention means “acts to make a stakeholder’s2 return likely.”
Member service is a form of retention. A form of loyalty, retention means that your member has confidence in the community. Confidence is essential to loss prevention.
Customer service is not a form of retention — and I do not criticise. Manufacturers must innovate, so they limit how long they support the products they make. Product innovations require customers to either upgrade or move to a different supplier.
Product innovation, however, degrades customer service if manufacturers do not keep their customer service teams up-to-date and empower them to empower the customer. This is a serious service failure, and it’s an opportunity for the gray market3 or the black market 4
Member-based communities are always “frontline” organisations: staff, except in the largest communities, regularly have direct contact with members. Some staff will have more contact than others, even in smaller communities, but everyone at some point has regular contact. Every staffer, at some point, will impact every member.
We’ll learn more of this in the next article.
1. An operation is an activity used to earn revenue for the organisation. ↩
2. Stakeholders include everyone who either affects an organisation or is affected by it. Key stakeholders include creditors, directors, employees, governments, regulators, members, shareholders, suppliers, and labour unions. By far the most important stakeholder? The community from which a business or membership community draws its resources.↩
3. Gray Market means a legal market that sells legal goods. The market, however, has no relationship with the producer of the goods. ↩
4. Black Market means an illegal underground market formed to circumvent legal restrictions. ↩
What Planet Do You Live On?
Plan B became a regularly scheduled journal in May, 2018. Two-thirds of the articles published to this point deal with cybersecurity in one way or another, most especially the last four articles in June. It’s a fallacy to think that cybersecurity is different than physical security.
What Planet Do You Live On?
Cybersecurity is about people. The common segregation of security into “cyber” or “physical” is not useful. Jasvir Gill thinks that cybersecurity is from Mars and physical security is from Venus.
The founder and CEO of AlertEnterprise, Jasvir initially focussed his security practice on governance, risk and compliance (GRC). Loss Prevention Headquarters agrees entirely with this approach: GRC does not allow for “silos.” A silo, according to BusinessDictionary.Com (a new tab will open in your browser) is …
A mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company.
Reasons To Silo
There are a few good reasons to silo. Marketing may want to keep certain information proprietary before a launch, or even thereafter. Finance certainly wants to separate receivables from payables. Human Resources must protect the privacy of its employees.
None of this applies to us here.
Marketing, Finance and Human Resources are important to business operations — but are not themselves operations: they don’t make money, they support units that make money. Departments or sectors who do not wish to share information, continues Business Dictionary…
… reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.
Life On Planet Earth
Gill thinks that corporate security is one planet. The silos of Mars and Venus, cybersecurity and physical security, must be pulled into Earth’s orbit. Far too many organisations segregate IT security from physical security.
Security professionals in the organisation need some of the same training, and as they acquire it they must be allowed to move forward. At some point what your security professionals know will diverge: some will have advanced skills useful to cybersecurity, some will have advanced skills useful to general life safety — and all will have advanced skills.
Gill’s expertise is in critical infrastructure, where the distintion between cybersecurity and physical is quite thin.
“Bad guys attack where they see the biggest gap,” he asserts. “They won’t wait until you are prepared.” He’s right, and smaller organisations must learn from him.
Swim With The Sharks
Swimming With the Sharks…
Swim with the sharks or drown with the shipwrecked crew — these are the only two choices a security consultant has in her (his) professional life.
Security, put simply, is a very tough industry to be in.
The best consultants are educators. The best educators are strong listeners who say little while they do much. Knowing what to say and when to say it follows only after a consultant knows what to listen for when a client describes a problem.
This is why security consultants must be broadly educated.
An educated security consultant, though, is not the same as a qualified security consultant.
Who is qualified?
It’s very important to combine general education with a good technical education.
- Your undergraduate degree in information technology is incomplete without a minor in social science or arts.
Earning your degree does not qualify you as a security consultant. Here are is the essence of what you must know after your complete your education:
Swimming In The Talent Pool
- you can see everyone in the pool
- it’s easier to observe who the good swimmers are
Essential cybersecurity skills
There are four essential cybersecurity skills:
- a solid grasp of social science
- English fluency
- the ability to understand at least one other spoken language, and
- technical skills
A Solid Grasp of Social Science?
This is very important. Every generation encounters this dilemma: modern life motivates certain behaviours either not known or not considered previously. A security consultant must understand these behaviours.
What are “social” sciences?
A social science gathers data by directly observing people and the collectives they form. We will consider four:
Security consultants need to know this for two reasons:
- These disciplines are a good form of general education, and
- Security consultants have people as clients, not machines
The people security consultants have as clients are usually busy people with a good general education. They tend also to be well-spoken. Security consultants need to follow suit.
Accounting is a very old discipline. It is constantly referenced (a new tab will open in your browser) in the Old Testament. Numbers provide context to inform decision makers pragmatically. A security consultant is unqualified if she (he) is unable to understand basic accounting, and most especially this essential cost:
A security consultant must be able to recognise modern social dilemmas that influence crime.
In 1897, economist Émile Durkheim wrote Suicide, the first scientific study to define modern social structures. Durkheim’s observations are very important to security consultants. Robert King Merton’s strain theory modernised Durkheim in 1938. Robert Agnew’s general strain theory validated Merton in 1992. Agnew’s insight thinks strain theory limited when it attempts to explaining social strains (other than financial).
A security consultant needs to to understand how goods and services move to the consumer. The market constantly reinvents itself.
The marketing concept. All free market economies hold a democratic ideal: that the market will decide what becomes widely distributed. Organisations must
- know the needs of their customers, and
- satisfy those needs.
Almost every business model relies on the marketing concept in one way or another.
Marketing is more easily understood when we consider it a collective of five major elements, each in a dynamic relationship with the other four:
Public image is a complex discussion. Let me leave you with one thought and then we’ll move on:
Public image attracts individuals. People attracted to an organisation have confidence in the community.
Place is the very core of marketing: how goods and services are distributed to customers. Distribution is directly affected by price, which directly affects production: fewer expensive products are made because fewer people can afford them. Production directly affects promotion: how will you know about the new mousetrap if I don’t tell you?
Our economy requires skilled labour, but doesn’t produce much of it. Economists study scarcity, and labour becomes more scarce as the modern economy consumes skilled labour more than ever. Who is to purchase what specialists produce?
Jealousy, in other words, motivates crime. Ours is a digital world. It should not surprise anyone that we have digital criminals.
The Final Rant
I’ll stop ranting (on this topic, anyway) on June 27: Swim With The Sharks.
How Deep Is The Talent Pool?
Cybersecurity is a type of continuous improvement. This is true of all security planning, actually.
Cybersecurity competency demands social, interpersonal skills. A good cubersecurity expert attracts organisations, and the people who hold them dear; promotion simply doesn’t work:
Everyone already knows security is important:
- No one leaves home with their doors wide open.
- No one leaves the car in the parking lot without locking the doors.
What is there to promote?
The Talent Pool Is Shallow
The best cybersecurity expert is an educator. She (he) probably speaks at least two languages. This is important, for digital crime is transnational.
The world population is perhaps 7.5 billion. Fewer than 500 million people live in the Anglosphere (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) — scarcely 7% of the world population. The chances are superb that digital criminals speak a first language other than English.
Questions to Ask
- Describe your experience with other, similar organisations. (It’s reasonable to assume they’ll have some or much enterprise experience but little or no SME experience.)
- What is the single, most simple solution for our cybersecurity? (There isn’t one. If they suggest otherwise, move on.)
- Have you a plan to keep everyone in the organisation well-informed and secure? (There is no way to plan this. None. Planning is crucial; a plan is useless.)
The Three P’s
Policy. Even the smallest organisation is now subject to a compliance framework. The distinction between compliance and law enforcement is basic, and your cybersecurity consultant needs to be aware of it. Cybersecurity expertise ideally includes policy analysis.
Procedures. How do you implement your compliance framework? Drafting policy is one thing. Implementing it is something else.
Planning. Cybersecurity is one type of security, and security is a type of continuous improvement. Threats change routinely. Plans don’t because plans can’t, so avoid plans and invest in planning.
One more rant
On Monday, June 25: Swimming In The Talent Pool. (This link opens a new tab in your browser.)